What strength training methods work FOR YOU?

Dave Draper

At the IYCA Summit this past weekend, Jason Ferrugia and I were talking shop about what off-season protocols we use with our clients to get them as strong as possible.  This topic immediately turned into the following realization:  It’s funny how polarized we can become within the strength-training community.

Some guys swear by linear periodization.

For other if it’s not heavy sets of 5’s, you’re doing something wrong.

And of course, we always have Westside for life.

However, the longer you do this, and the more you’ve experimented with things, the more you realize how little all of that matters.

While guys are apt to argue about it for days upon end in an Internet forum, the fact-of-the-matter is the longer you do this, the more you realize what works best for you.

If someone, somewhere hadn’t gotten results from a training system, do you think it would still be around?

And when you stop to think about it, how many guys have gotten great results using linear periodization?  Or a 5×5 protocol?  Westside?  Or even a block periodization style routine?

At the end of the day everything, by-and-large, will work.  The issue, then, is finding what works best for you.

The hardest part of all this is when you realize that just because something has worked in the past, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work again in the future.

So now I’m intrigued – what are your current goals, and what program are you following do get the job done?

And even more importantly, is it working? If not, it may be time to recalibrate a bit.  Feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback below!

Stay strong



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  1. I have played around with HIT, WSB, DC, Dave Tates Trilogy, linear perodization, classical bodybuilding Arnold style and loads of other methods. WSB and linear perodization always gave me the best strength gains, while DC always gave me the quickest mass gains.
    Right now I am playing around with my own routines, based on what I have learned from all the different systems I have tried. I work up to 3rm's and 1rm's and rotate exercises like the WSB max effort method, but I have ditched dynamic effort. I throw in some rest pausing from DC on my assistance lifts, I cycle volume in a manner somewhat similar to Trilogy. I base my training days around squat/deadlift, jerk, clean/snatch and bench since I am trying to improve all of them(the olympic lifts are brand new to me and I can't even perform a snatch or jerk properly yet). I have a high intensity/low volume and low intensity/high volume day for each lift and going through the 8 workouts in two weeks.
    My biggest problem is handling overtraining. My lower body can take endless amounts of abuse without ever complaining, the best gains I ever did in the deadlift was when I deadlifted three times a week. But my shoulders gets cranky the moment I increase volume of pressing.
    My goals are to military press my bodyweight(95kg), snatch 90kg, clean and jerk 110kg, squat 200kg, deadlift 230kg and bench 170kg.

  2. Well said Mike. I found all of these methods to benefit me and those that I train. Has some good conversations this weekend at the PB Summitt here in Columbus and I came to the conlusion that all of these systems are tools. But we have to make sure that we don't try to use a screwdriver for nail or a hammer for a screw.

  3. Current split:
    Monday: deads, back, and biceps
    Tuesday: early workout clean, snatch, sled pushes/pulls or interval training… Chest (two presses, one fly), straight arm raises for shoulders, triceps for the late workout
    Wednesday: LEGS- back squat, either front squat or leg press, walking lunges, and RDLS
    Thursday: Back and Biceps
    Friday: Shoulders (2 presses, 1 straight arm raise), one chest flying movement, and triceps
    I am trying to do at least two days of steady-state cardio like walking on a treadmill on a 6% grade at the end of a workout.
    Deadlift has been going up until today, flat bench is up, BW pulls are up, sore enough that the weekend recovery gives me rest and ready to attack the workout again on Monday. Seems to be working well, I'll let you know what the end-result is in 5 weeks.

  4. I am currently on a westside schedule. Currently I cant squat or deadlift as in the bottom of my squat my left hip drops. I get pain in my si joint.
    The upper body lifts are going good. Lowerbody days have been single leg work and deadbug variations. Currently I can only do DB split squats and lateral lunges. I use a 4 week cycle.
    My goal is compete in powerlifting. My long term(2-3)yrs is a 200kg squat and deadlift. 150kg bench press. Short term (6mths-1yr) 150 squat and deadlift.110kg benchpress raw.

  5. I'm currently doing 5/3/1 on mon/wed and on friday im doing a John McCallum style routine, 20 rep squats and all.
    i've had my best gains from linear progression but too much squating after 4-5 weeks aggravates my knee, so i gotta watch the volume.

  6. I'm currently adding training back in after being quite broken. I have a gym in my living room, and work from home, so access is no problem. With that, I like a grease the groove type idea. I get better at lifts pretty fast and I get to use really light weights so as to not abuse my shoulders, hips and one knee. Works great as long as I keep the load annoyingly light for now. Overall I like high volume and like to cycle between high frequency and high density.

  7. I keep it simple in my training right now. It's a mash-up of many different ideas that I've gotten from many different people. My goal is getting strong in my weight class and competing in PL meets.
    The basics of my training are:
    Heavy Squat or DL once a week, rotating which it is that I do. Deload week every 4th week.
    Light squat AND DL once a week, working on reps and form.
    Heavy bench work once a week, rotating variations of the bench. Deload week every 3rd week.
    Depending upon my schedule and fatigue from the lifting days, I do prehab work, KB stuffs, and running or sprinting on a couple of the non-training days.
    Over the last couple of years my training has evolved into this (again, this is the jist) and it's working. All 3 powerlifts keep going up and I haven't been injured yet. So, I'll keep doing this until the lifts stop going up or an injury happens.

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